Sheikh Jamal forward Sony Norde (L) heads the ball ahead of Uttar Baridhara goalkeeper Osman Gani during their Bangladesh Premier League match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday. PHOTO: STAR
Yesterday was the day of minnows in the Nitol Tata Bangladesh Premier League as three lower-placed sides held their respective opponents to identical 1-1 draws in three encounters at different venues.
Newcomers Uttar Baridhara Club and bottom-side Chittagong Abahani held league leaders Sheikh Jamal DC and Team BJMC respectively at the Bangabandhu National Stadium while visiting Feni Soccer Club came from behind to draw against hosts Muktijoddha Sangsad at the Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni Stadium in Gopalganj.
The stalemate between Sheikh Jamal and Uttar Baridhara kept title contenders Abahani's hopes alive as they are now six points behind Sheikh Jamal, who have 39 points from 17 matches while Baridhara overtook Feni Soccer to grasp the eighth position with 12 points from 17 outings.
It was surprising to see the pace of Uttar Baridhara against leaders Sheikh Jamal, who had toyed with the newcomers in their first meeting of the league recording the biggest margin (8-0) of victory in the professional league. This time, though, Baridhara looked a different side with their attacking flair which often unsettled Sheikh Jamal's strong backline and gave them an early lead.
Left-winger Khalekuzzaman caught the attention with his sprint which often exposed the backline of Sheikh Jamal. With such a sprint from down the left, Khalekuzzaman raced past two Sheikh Jamal defenders to release a nice cross for Kenyan Collins Tiego, who nodded home with a glancing header in the 18th minute.
But the lead lasted only ten minutes as Haitian striker Sony Norde levelled the margin with a sudden drive from the edge of the box which deceived goalkeeper Osman Gani. Sheikh Jamal were reduced to ten men in their successive match after Nigerian hitman Emeka Darlington fouled goalkeeper Osman Gani in the 80th minute. Still they should have earned full three points as they earned a penalty kick two minutes before the end. But Sony failed to convert the spot kick as Sheikh Jamal were denied a 12th win.
In the first match at the BNS, Team BJMC, who came into the match on the back of a 2-1 win over holders Sheikh Russel, had the upperhand against Chittagong Abahani. But it took them 79 minutes to break the deadlock, thanks to a nice placing shot from Guinean hitman Ismael Bangoura which beat Chittagong Abahani goalkeeper Nahid Uddin.
Nahid Uddin was however lucky not to concede a second goal as Kanon saw his header come off the woodwork in the 85th minute and in the same minute, Chittagong Abahani found the equaliser on the counter attack when a harmless drive from Abdul Hannan ended at the back of Team BJMC net.
Away at Gopalganj, Shafiqul Islam put Muktijoddha Sangsad ahead in the 24th minute only to be cancelled by Gambian Landing Darboe five minutes before the break.
The stalemates meant all four teams stayed at the previous position with Muktijoddha (23 points) staying at fifth place followed by BJMC (19) at sixth, Feni Soccer (11) at ninth and Chittagong Abahani (9) at the bottom of the ten-team table.